Back from the brink of economic meltdown

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Larne has come off the ropes and fought its way back to economic recovery in the wake of last year’s devastating job losses at FG Wilson.

That was the claim this week from local enterprise company LEDCOM, which identified a number of green shoots sprouting up across the borough.

The most startling indication that the economy is getting back on track is that there have only been two confirmed redundancies in 2013, compared with 295 in the period from October to December last year.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit has also dropped sharply.

In February this year, just five months after FG Wilson announced it was cutting 700 jobs from its plants in Larne, Monkstown and Belfast, the borough’s claimant count stood at 1,093.

But in just eight short months, that figure has plummeted by 20 per cent to 853.

LEDCOM’s general manager David Gillespie presented the encouraging statistics to Larne Borough Council at the latest meeting of the development committee.

He told local elected representatives that Larne’s claimant count has been dropping since the redundancies at FG Wilson, and is now lower than it was this time last year.

Mr Gillespie added that Larne’s unemployment is “significantly lower” than the NI average.

He said: “It is very encouraging to note recent job announcements in Terumo (over 400 jobs) and Caterpillar (100 new manufacturing jobs) which will provide a further major boost to the economy.”

Alderman Jack McKee thanked Mr Gillespie for his economic update and added: “We live in a time of doom and gloom, but listening to your report it doesn’t seem so bad.

“It is remarkable that there have only been two redundancies in the past year. The signs are looking good and I think Larne can hold its head up high.”